By Harry McCracken | Monday, May 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
I’m not sure if there’s a guiding principle at work with the evolution of pricing for mobile-phone data plans, but if there is, it sure isn’t Moore Law–the $30 I plunk down each month for unlimited data for my iPhone is 50 percent more than what I paid a few years ago with my first smartphone, a Treo 650. But BusinessWeek has published an encouraging report that AT&T is considering lowering the cost of iPhone data or introducing a $20 plan for something less than all-you-can eat access. Not surprisingly, the folks who have snapped up iPhones to date tend to be a pretty affluent bunch, and AT&T is worried that it may be running out of propserous customers to sell new phones to.
I hope very much that the carrier does chop prices–but that it does so by simply instituting a price cut for unlimited data rather than adding a cheaper, capped option. Smartphones are pocketable PCs, and using one with anything less than all-you-can eat data is like a trip back to the era when people paid for AOL by the hour and kept a nervous eyeball on the meter at all times. You gotta think that if AT&T reduces the cost of unlimited data, it can sell more than enough additional iPhones to end up making more money than it does today at current rates. It would be a boon for AT&T, for new customers, and for those of us who would be happy to renew our contracts at a lower rate. Come to think of it, it would also benefit customers of other carriers, since cheaper iPhones would require other providers to respond with price cuts.